The Red and Gold brigade fans have every reason to cheer as it was a super Sunday for them since Kolkata giants East Bengal survived the I-League relegation.
East Bengal thrashed Viva Kerala at their backyard with a convincing 3-1 margin to validate their right to stay in the ONGC I-League after their penultimate round match played here on Sunday.
Syed Rahim Nabi, Alvito D’Cunha and Edmilson scored for Kolkata outfit, while Ebin Rose scored for the losers.
After much desired Sunday’s win, the three-time champions East Bengal team took their tally to 18 points from 17 matches leaving behind Viva Kerala (12) and Salgaocar (11), which meant that both the clubs have now relegated from the top tier of the I-League.
East Bengal also moved into the sixth place in the ten-team table. But the race for the coveted title is still in quandary as Salgaocar held leaders Dempo SC to a 1-1 draw in Margao.
The draw puts Dempo alongwith Churchill Brothers on the top of the chart with 33 points from 17 matches, but the former has a better goal difference. The main thing for both the teams will be to pull off a sure win in their last round match this weekend.
While it will be easy for Dempo as they just need to win their final game but Churchill has to put up a herculean effort to score a huge margin victory. If Dempo manages to win against Viva Kerala, Churchill Brothers will need to win by at least five goals margin against Air India to win the title.
Dempo will take on Viva Kerala while Churchill will play Air India in their respective final round matches on February 23.
The hosts Viva Kerala needed a win to maintain their survival hopes alive. Therefore they adopted the offensive strategy and went off the blocks too fast but opened up their defence to face counter-moves from the rivals’.
Nabi put the visitors ahead in the 20th minute followed which Viva Kerala raised their game and restored parity on the stroke of lemon-break, Ebin Rose headed into the net off a fine cross from K.V. Lalu.
On resumption, East Bengal got hold pf the proceedings by controlling the the midfield, Man of the Match Nabi played superb role of the withdrawn half back after combining well in the half-line and as the attacking third.
Nabi helped in East Bengal’s second goal in the 57th minute, his fine through pass from the centre set up a nice ball on the run for Alvito who finished it up in the net without any trouble.
The hosts had their chances but rival custodian Subrata Paul excelled under the bar and thwarted opponent’s attack with fine numerous saves.
Brazilian striker Edmilson hit the final nail on the deck as he came up with the best goal of the day making the scoreline 3-1. Edmilson neatly connected to a free-kick taken by Alvito just before the final whistle.